Donna Jones, who was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, is the executive director of the documentary ‘Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence’. (Submitted)

Donna Jones, who was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, is the executive director of the documentary ‘Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence’. (Submitted)

Islander produces documentary offering hope to those with addictions

Donna Jones and husband Brent just released Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence

No matter how bad your life may have gotten, you are not alone and there’s always hope you can get back on track, says Donna Jones.

It’s a lesson that Jones learned from Bobbi Jo Reed, the founder of Healing House in Kansas City who has rescued thousand of people with addictions from the streets since the non-profit organization opened its doors in 2003.

Jones, who was born and raised in Duncan, is the executive producer of a new feature-length documentary called Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence that she developed with her husband Brent, a film maker and director with whom she formed Gold Room Films with the intention of creating socially impactful films.

The documentary is the couple’s first feature film collaboration.

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Before Reed began her mission to help others, she first had to help herself, a description of the film reveals.

After a middle class upbringing, Reed turned to drinking and drugs at a young age, and soon after, her life spiralled out of control.

Addiction led to abuse, prostitution, and homelessness.

But when she hit rock bottom, Reed had a spiritual awakening, and with newfound strength, she was lifted out of her personal hell.

That strength gave her the courage to return to the streets to help others.

Jones’s powerful documentary follows Reed into and out of her experiences on the streets, celebrates her recovery, and shows how she is using both of those experiences to serve the more than 8,000 individuals who now call her “Mom”.

Jones, who helped open one of the first Lululemon stores in the U.S. and was the project manager of the construction of the Saddle Ranch Chop House at Universal Studios before she and Brent started Gold Room Films, said when you are with Reed and immersed in her community, you quickly get the feeling that you are simply not doing enough to give back.

“Bobbi Jo has been giving her life to her community 24/7 for 18 years, but she is not just helping people get sober,” Jones said.

“She is literally building an army for good. She’s creating a groundswell of positivity through faith, hope, and love. Every person that Bobbi Jo helps gives it right back. That spirit of helping and giving is infectious.”

Jones said she, Brent and the rest of the film crew spent 40 days with Reed, her helpers and clients and were amazed at what she has accomplished.

“Bobbi Jo is an absolute joy to work with,” she said.

“She doesn’t slow down for anyone and we had to work hard just to keep up with her. She is obsessed with helping and serving people in her community non-stop. We are so grateful that she entrusted us with her story.”

Jones said Reed offers lessons that can be helpful in the Cowichan Valley which, along with many other communities on the Island and beyond, is experiencing its own drug and homelessness crisis.

“I think every community needs a Bobby Jo,” said Jones, who has been coming to the Cowichan Valley regularly to visit her father in Maple Bay for years.

“There really is power in openly sharing your experiences, as Bobbi Jo does, and encouraging others to talk about the deepest, darkest parts of their lives. The message will reach people, like drug addicts, who believe that no one has it as bad as they do. There is power in knowing there are others like you, and that you can reach out and share with them.”

Jones said there is strength in numbers, and sharing with those with similar experiences provides inner strength and provides hope that a better life can lie ahead.

“If there is one thing that Bobbi Jo has taught me is that there is hope for everyone, and everyone is worthy of it,” she said.

Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence is available now on-demand and all major platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.

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robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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